Adventurous cocktails, Italian bites from Dough and a marvellously mangled aesthetic.
The Northern Quarter is home to many a decent cocktail joint, but the appeal of Apotheca is that it makes mixology both approachable and unintimidating for the masses - especially the hordes it welcomes at the weekend. Taking its name from the former apothecary it now calls home, the bar acts as a modern-day chemist to Manchester, with remedial pick-me-ups its forte. The interior was overhauled in 2015 with small reminders of the building’s past life. Unusual antique apothecary cabinets sit alongside contemporary leather sofas, and old-style martini saucers beside modern, angular tumblers. It soon begins to feel like a magnificent, tangled time warp.
By playing around with popping candy, wasabi, salted caramel bacon and pink wafers, booze here gets the Willy Wonka treatment. It makes for a diverse selection of twisted classics and innovative house mixes. Try the Bacon and Brown Sauce Bloody Mary, the aromatic Hazy Memoirs of a Geisha or the delicious Honey and Fig Caipirinha. Better yet, head over during the week before 7pm on Fridays and 5pm on Saturdays and bag yourself two for £12.
The food is a selection of the ‘best bits’ from nearby neighbour and Italian pizza kitchen, Dough. Judging by the queues snaking from its doors most evenings, it's pretty much a sure thing. With nibbles, light bites, sharing platters and pizzas, it’s the sort of food you want to nibble on as you wind down after work, the only downside being that the demand next door can sometimes affect waiting times.
A solid drinks selection, friendly doormen and a lively weekend atmosphere make Apotheca a good all-rounder. And for those eager to replicate the experience at home, they also offers cocktail classes that let you in on the secret world of their weird and wonderful approach to mixology.
17 Thomas Street